Tag Archives: Hawthorne

More On the Hawthorne Effect

Hawthorne factory floorA few days ago, I posted an item about an article that Steve Levitt and John List recently published in which they said they found “lost” data on whichthe “Hawthorne Effect” was supposed to have been partly based. Levitt and List claimed that the data showed no such effect, but only an effect on productivity resulting from changes in the seasons.

Yesterday, however, I received the following interesting “comment” from Charles Wrege, who has been studying the Hawthorne experiments periodically for the last half-century. Because of its length and importance, I have decided (with Mr. Wrege’s permission) to move it out of the comments section and incorporate it into a “primary” posting here. Continue reading More On the Hawthorne Effect

Hawthorne Effect? Maybe Not So Much.

Most every student of psychology (and many other disciplines) has heard of the legendary Hawthorne effect. Steve Levitt (of Freakonomics fame) and John List have just published an article on the website of the National Bureau of Economic Research in which they reveal that they have discovered the thought-to-be-long-lost data from the original Hawthorne experiments of the 1920s. Contrary, however, to the widespread belief in the pervasiveness of the effect, Levitt and List say that there is very little consistent evidence of such an effect in the original data. Continue reading Hawthorne Effect? Maybe Not So Much.

“The Psychologist” on Scientific Myths

The British Psychological Society’s flagship journal, The Psychologist, has published two items related to the history of psychology in its latest issue, and it has kindly made them freely available on its website.

The first is an article by Australian psychologist Malcolm Macmillan on the mythology surrounding the case of Phineas Gage, the Vermont railroad worker who had a tamping iron blasted through his head in 1848 and lived to tell about it.

Macmillan’s research on the case was published in An Odd Kind of Fame: Stories of Phineas Gage (MIT, 2002), and he has been interviewed for my podcast series, “This Week in the History of Psychology” (Sept. 11-17). Through extensive examination of the primary documents in the case, MacMillan has discovered that the Gage case has been distorted repeatedly through the century-and-a-half since, to suit the neuropsychological theories of the person writing the account. Continue reading “The Psychologist” on Scientific Myths